Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has said the state will pay its workers above the N30,000 new national minimum wage.
Sanwo-Olu made the promise on Tuesday when the state leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council paid him a courtesy visit in Ikeja.
He said that the state was aware of the challenges faced by workers and was ready to address them, hence, the decision by his administration to pay more than the N30,000 minimum wage benchmark.
Sanwo-Olu said that the implementation of the new minimum wage payment would take off when the Federal Government and labour unions concluded their negotiations.
He said that the state was drawing up its finances and creating additional revenue sources that would enable the government to sustain the new minimum wage payment.
According to him, the addition to the N30,000 benchmark is to motivate workers and encourage them to cope with challenges that may hinder their productivity.
“As a government, we take the issue of minimum wage very seriously. We know how important and germane it is to the wellbeing of our people. We are technically ready to implement the new minimum wage.
“I made commitment during my previous interactions with the labour unions before my assumption of office and I am still keeping to the promise made. However little it is, we will certainly pay more than N30,000 minimum wage.
“We understand the position Lagos occupies and we understand the challenges workers are facing in Lagos. If other states can raise up to that amount, I believe Lagos needs to show a bit more to appreciate workers’ contribution to the growth of our state,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu also spoke on demands of the labour leaders for workers, which include arrears of workers’ medical allowance, introduction of premium insurance for the workforce and timely pension payment for retired workers.
They also demanded for mortgage scheme for housing, befitting labour secretariat and representation of workers’ unions in MDA boards’ appointments.
Sanwo-Olu said he had directed the Commissioner for Finance to look into the unpaid arrears of workers’ medical allowance, with a charge to clear the backlog and make payment to the affected workers.
The governor said that the state was planning to absorb its entire workforce in the recently introduced health insurance scheme, as the Ministry of Health was harmonising the modality to ensure all workers were covered in the scheme.
He said that the government would collaborate with the Organised Labour Unions to float a post-retirement housing scheme that would enable workers of all cadres to apply and acquire permanent homes after leaving the service.
Sanwo-Olu said that Lagos would be donating land for the purpose, while the labour unions would source for finance to develop the scheme.
He said that the government had approved discounted rent for the workers occupying State-owned apartments, as it was part of the welfare programmes introduced by his administration to improve workers’ productivity.
Sanwo-Olu said that his administration had started to tackle challenges limiting workers’ productivity, including massive rehabilitation of critical highways across the state to reduce travel time and diffuse road congestion.
The labour leaders described Sanwo-Olu as “a listening leader” and observed that the Governor had started to fulfil promises made to the unions in the build up to the 2019 elections.
The Chairman of Lagos Council of TUC, Comrade Gbenga Ekundayo, listed re-introduction of Town Hall meeting with labour unions and appointment of more women into the state’s cabinet as part of the promises fulfilled by the Governor.
Ekundayo said that the labour unions had been meeting to develop a framework that would make the government capture traders in informal sector in the tax net.
He said that the labour unions’ recommendations would be submitted to the Head of Service (HOS), Hakeem Muri-Okunola, in the coming weeks.
The Chairperson of NLC, Lagos chapter, Comrade Funmi Sessi, said that workers were government’s partners in progress.
Sessi commended the governor for keeping some of his promises to the workers’ unions.
She promised that the Organised Labour would continue to support the government’s efforts toward improving the wellbeing of the residents and workers in the state.